Rangers fan's traffic jam praise for Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers can remember registering a brief moment of alarm. As Celtic manager, he is used to being way out in front so to be left sitting behind a line of stopped traffic in Glasgow's Clyde Tunnel was frustrating in itself.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full time at Tynecastle after his side clinched the title. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full time at Tynecastle after his side clinched the title. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Then the door of a car in front opened. The first thing that struck Rodgers was the colour of the top the man approaching him was wearing – blue.

“Ok, here we go”, thought the Celtic manager, glancing down to make sure the lock button of his driver’s door was switched on.

But rather than be met with a volley of abuse, or worse, Rodgers was about to be handed the latest pleasant surprise since his introduction to Scottish football, 11 months ago.

The Rangers fan leaned in. “He said: ‘I just wanted to say thank you for coming up to Scottish football. I’m a Rangers supporter but you are a breath of fresh air up here’,” recalled Rodgers yesterday.

The Celtic manager isn’t prone to fleshing out such details of being out and about in Glasgow but he was expanding on comments made in the aftermath of Sunday’s 5-0 victory over Hearts. The win secured Celtic’s sixth successive league title and the first of Rodgers’ managerial career.

Some wondered whether what he said about not being able to think of a better place to be than Celtic had simply been uttered in the elated flush of victory.

But he stressed comments about never having felt happier in both his professional and personal life were true. He has grown to feel very much at home in Scotland, which as well as being good news for Celtic supporters, is to the credit to the vast majority of Rangers supporters.

“I’ve never been bothered since I have been up here,” said Rodgers. “I say that hand on heart. I have met Rangers supporters and, in the main, they have been very good.”

“I live in a lovely part of the world just outside the city,” he added. “I can pop into the city. I don’t go in so much of course, but when I do people are great. You could go to a different restaurant every night and enjoy great food. It is a very cosmopolitan city.

“But then you can also get yourself out to Loch Lomond or Gleneagles in very short time.”

“I don’t know what Glasgow was like before but, to me, it seems a really regenerated city,” he continued. “People can’t do enough for you. Genuinely. There are really authentic people. My family who have moved up here love it. Charlotte (his fiancee) loves it.”

But Rodgers is the first to admit that it’s hard to find trouble if you are as consumed as he is by work. “People who know me understand that’s what drives me,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put myself into positions often enough to see what it (the Glasgow fishbowl) is like. I am a professional and this is my profession. I’m not here to take short cuts and get out on to a golf course.

“I get paid a good salary by the club and I need to earn that. I have a responsibility to the supporters. But you need to come out of the battle at some point.”

He emerged from “the battle” on Sunday night but even then the celebrations involved having only a late roast dinner at home “with a wee glass of champagne”. He later sipped a cup of tea while watching a re-run of the 90 minutes at Tynecastle, with the aim of ironing out weaknesses that, even given the result, Rodgers said he saw.

It was a reminder that there’s still work to be done this season. Even in the hour of glory on Sunday Rodgers was seen kicking an advertising hoarding in frustration at a Celtic move from the back breaking down.

“I’m sure a lot of the supporters had a much better evening than me,” he noted. “I had recorded the game so I watched that back as well, to see the good bits and the areas we can improve on. We took that into today’s work ahead of Wednesday night (v Partick Thistle).”

While there will come a time to celebrate properly, this historic season runs remorselessly on. Celtic host Partick tomorrow and then entertain Kilmarnock on Saturday, meaning a lot more fans than the 1,500 at Tynecastle on Sunday now have the chance to salute their heroes.

One of them is Patrick Roberts, who the Celtic manager hasn’t completely ruled out being at the club next season. While he accepts it’s unlikely the winger, who set up two and scored one himself against Hearts while playing through the middle, would be around for the Champions League qualifiers, Rodgers expressed hope the on-loan Manchester City player could return at some stage.

“I wouldn’t say no chance,” he said. “He’s a Manchester City player and the agreement was 18 months. He’ll go back and he’ll want to fight to see if he can get into the Manchester City squad.

“They are one of superpowers now in terms of finance and squads in the game, so I’m sure he wants to go in and work with Pep Guardiola for a bit and see how all of that works out.

“And then, over the course of pre-season, they’ll decide what happens. Is he going to stay and be around the squad, or does he need to go out on loan again? If he does, I’m sure this will be a really attractive option to him. It’ll just depend. But initially, for the qualifiers, I doubt he’d be here.”